Master jewel thief Melina Mercouri comes up with a plan to steal an extremely expensive Jewell encrusted dagger from Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. In concocting a plan, she enlists a rather disreputable group of team members including Arthur Simpson, a small-time con-man who is simply brought on to unknowingly smuggle some tools into the country which will be needed for the heist. Due to passport issues, things don't go as planned for Arthur, a bumbling putsy man, who ends up being caught in-between the world-class jewelry thieves and Turkish intelligence, who suspect the worst. Coming many years after his crime-caper classic Rififi, Jules Dassin's Topkapi is a much different type of caper, playing with the genre conventions in creating an extremely entertaining, comical film that relies heavily on an extremely well done cat-and-mouse game. The opening sequence of the film is a somewhat surreal sequence which perfectly sets up the type of film which the viewer is about to experience. It's a very playful, colorful sequence where Melina talks directly into the camera, explaining her true profession - a Jewel thief. It makes a lot of sense that Elizabeth Lipp, who plays Melina, was Dassin's wife, as she is very much portrayed as the consummate sex-symbol throughout the film. Dassin seems infatuated with perception of beauty and how this woman uses it thoroughly to her advantage There are tons of great little comedic details throughout, which really enhance the character's personalities, in a way making the characters much more relate-able to the viewer. Dassin's direction is incredibly assured, using all sorts of camera movements - quick pans, slow pans, tracking shots, etc. to create a film that is incredibly suspenseful one second, and belly-laughter inducing the next, showcasing Dassin's underrated comedic timing. Topkapi absolutely deserves to be mentioned as one of the very best caper films ever made because of how well it balances the characters, laughs, and tension in delivering a highly enjoyable film.
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